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Welcome to Cancercare George Dr Elré van Heerden

Written By Joedene

Dr. Elré van Heerden has joined the Outeniqua Cancercare Unit from April 2022. She qualified as a clinical radiation oncologist at the University of the Free State and practiced at the then GVI Oncology Unit in George from July 2000. She resigned from the practice in 2012 to further her interest in palliative medicine and has since obtained a post-graduate diploma in palliative medicine from the University of Cape Town, as well as a master’s degree in clinical pain management from the University of Edinburgh and a master’s degree in philosophy from the Stellenbosch University. Dr. van Heerden is still much interested in oncology and women’s health and will be available to consult patients diagnosed with breast and gynaecological malignancies. Given her passion for palliative care, she will also be responsible for coordinating the care of patients living with advanced cancer. 


Palliative care concentrates on the management of symptoms associated with serious illness, including the emotional impact the disease has on patients and their families. According to Dr. van Heerden, patients often benefit most from a combination of disease-directed treatment and the support provided by palliative care.

‘Integrating oncology and palliative care relies on specific knowledge and skills to combine a tumor-directed approach (the main focus of which is on treating the disease) and a host-directed approach, which focuses on the patient with the disease. By merging oncology and palliative care, the patient’s perspective is at the center of his or her care.  It implies a respectful and dynamic relationship between treating professionals and patients where the former contribute their knowledge and skills and the patients their treatment goals and values. The overall aim is to ensure appropriate care that will improve patient and family wellbeing.’